In order to reach organizational peak performance, both the individuals and the organization as a whole have to be aligned towards the same goals. One of the key factors in ensuring organizational success is the emotional intelligence of the people and the group as a whole. Emotional intelligence at an individual level refers to your ability to be aware of, manage, and use your emotions and the emotions of others.
A number of characteristics related to emotional intelligence thought to be important in creating a productive work environment have been identified and studied. The emotionally intelligent organization can be defined as follows:
“An organization’s ability to successfully and efficiently cope with change and accomplish its goals, while being responsible and sensitive to its people, customers, suppliers, networks and society.”
What differentiates those companies that really excel? Not just when times are good, but when times are really tough. We’ve looked at companies that weathered recessions and blossomed during booms. These companies look after their “basic needs” and “nice to haves” as many other companies do. But they also pay attention to a number of areas that we call “ideals.” Let’s start to explore these ideals and see how your company measures up in these areas.
What does it really mean to be optimistic? Can we just wear rose-coloured glasses and plough on with our daily drudge? Not if you really want to be an optimistic organization. Optimism is more that just believing the world will be great. Optimism has more to do with how you deal with obstacles. It’s an approach to dealing with difficult situations. It’s strategic. Organizations that are truly optimistic look for challenges and relish in overcoming those challenges.
Being courageous means not being afraid to take risks and confront challenges. Organizations high in this area do not hide or bury heads in sand when difficulties emerge. They manage to plan a course of action and execute it without hesitation. Courageous organizations admit when they are wrong, address mistakes, and quickly implement change.
A good example of this is Bill Gates and Microsoft’s decision in the early 1990’s after spending over a million dollars in research, that the Internet would have no practical commercial use until approximately 2020. They chose to pass on future development related to the Internet at Microsoft. Shortly after 1992, Jim Clarke, a computer industry veteran and Marc Andreeson, a new graduate from the University of Illinois, put together a company called Netscape in Jim Clarke’s kitchen. Netscape was created to develop a search engine for the loosely connected Internet of the time. Netscape took off like a rocket. What was Microsoft’s immediate response? Did they sit on their laurels (they were hundreds of times bigger than Netscape), or try to justify their costly research? Was Bill Gates concerned about his ego? After all, how would it look if he reversed the decision he had been broadcasting in speeches throughout North America?
In lightning time, Microsoft completely abandoned its previous strategy and turned a multi billion dollar enterprise around on a dime and created Microsoft Explorer. While the entire story here resulted in legal proceedings with the Department of Justice, the main point is that Microsoft had the courage to admit it was wrong, analyzed the options, and acted with gusto, vastly increasing the fortunes of the company. Where would Microsoft be today if they were solely governed by ego and internal research? Or if they simply decided to bury their heads in the sand over the Internet?
How does your company deal with change? Is it a nuisance and cost that you have to put up with? Or do people at your organization embrace change? Do they get excited over new technology, newer and more efficient ways of doing their jobs? Do people spend significant amounts of time looking for new ways to do things? Companies that move with the future and stay just ahead of the curve, stand to be tomorrow’s winners. Unfortunately, companies that resist change will struggle to survive.
How up-to-date are people in your organization about their jobs? Does the organization value time and expense paid to learn? Companies that want to stay ahead financially budget time and resources to train their people throughout the organization. Whether it’s information technology, graphic arts, customer service, financial management, project management, or logistics and shipping, if the organization falls behind current practice in any of its key areas, the whole organization can suffer.
These are some of the ideals that your company can strive for to be successful tomorrow. Being emotionally intelligent as individuals and as an organization help you prepare for what’s to come. Today’s success is no guarantee of where you might be in the future. But paying attention to these areas today help ensure that you will be ready for change when it hits, and it will come.
Kandidata Asia will express our thanks to Dr. Stein for this article. Kandidata Asia as been a partner and close collaborator with MHS since 1997.
Dr. Steven J. Stein is CEO of MHS and co-author of “The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success,” and author of “Make Your Workplace Great: The 7 Keys To an Emotionally Intelligent Workplace,” and “Emotional Intelligence for Dummies.”